Murder in Montara: Babes in the Woods Case, Part VII

In October 1946, several months after Lorraine Newton’s daughters were brutally slain in a remote Montara canyon, the young 21-year-old mother, herself a victim who survived the attacks, sat in the Redwood City office of Assistant District Attorney Fred Wycoff.

She was ready to talk about the horrific event that had occurred, just days before the murder trial of her husband, Vorhes, was set to begin.

You wouldn’t have known Lorraine had been severely injured. Slim and dark-haired, she looked gorgeous after a long hospital stay in Half Moon Bay.

“My husband, Vorhes,â€? she said, “killed my babies and tried to murder me. He would have buried all three of us in Wagner canyon but he must have been frightened off by my screams.â€?

When asked for a motive, Lorraine Newton looked blank. “There was no reason,â€? she said. She noted that the children were his and she didn’t have any lovers to make him jealous.

She gave more details about that terrible day recalling that she and her husband headed from Alameda for an appointment with a Doctor Anderson in San Francisco. Apparently the husband made the appointment.

(While there may have been an authentic “Dr. Anderson” in San Francisco, there was a Mrs. Alta Anderson, who, along with her daughter, Mae Rodley, operated an “abortioon mill” in San Mateo County. Is it possible that this is the “Dr. Anderson” both Newtons, or the wife or the husband, had made an appointment with?)

“He said he wanted to take a ride first,â€? Lorraine said. She seated Barbara, the older daughter in the front seat between the couple, and Carolyn, was put in a baby seat in the back.

Vorhes may have wanted to take a “ride firstâ€?, as Lorraine claimed, but she said they did go to San Francisco. When they got there Vorhes said that the doctor was not in San Francisco but at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica.

With the car pointed in a new direction, they drove into the mountains and stopped. “I couldn’t understand what a doctor would be doing in the wilds,â€? she said.

“I got out of the car and Vorhes struck me. He hit me with his fist. He knocked me out. When I came to one baby lay head beside me. The other baby was half buried. I never saw her.â€?

Lorraine Newton said she was going to testify against her husband. “I will answer questions,â€? she said. “I’m only interested in seeing that justice takes its course.â€? One would think her tone would be angrier, uglier, but she only added that, “For myself, I want to forget everything. I have no plans, not even to divorce my husband. I suppose I’ll ask for my freedom later.â€?

The Newtons met while they were students at Polytechnic High School in San Francisco. Vorhes had joined the Coast Guard when the couple married in Reno in 1942.

….To be Continued